I have vintage promtional cards from yarn manufacturers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. How can I showcase them?
Q. Dear Donia,
I have three typical examples from my collection of promotional cards produced by yarn manufacturers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They're thin cardboard with color lithography, mostly rectangular but a very few die-cut. This is a new area for me, and I'd love some advice on a method for storage that would keep them safe and secure, but allow me to still enjoy them. I don't think I want to frame them—though it's not out of the question to perhaps do that with one or two. Would that be advisable?
What I know I would like to do as soon as possible is perhaps get them into some sort of album that would protect them, but still allow me to pull them out and look at them occasionally. At the moment they're all together in the one plastic sleeve they arrived in from the dealer, and I don't think it's archival quality. In fact, I think it's a baggie. Thank you, Franklin
A. Dear Franklin,
I LOVE these these old Victorian trade cards. Most of them have such beautiful printing and the colors just leap off the page!
The best way to store these so that you can see them and yet keep them safe is in photo sleeves that fit into a three-ring binder. These polypropylene sleeves are inert and allow you to see the card front and back. Their pre-punched holes make them easy to store in three-ring binders. I would avoid the standard binders from the office supply store as they are covered in PVC. Polyvinyl Chloride will off gas over time and could produce chemicals that would be very damaging to the cards. Instead, you can get binder boxes in either paper or polypropylene.
Even though these items appear relatively stable in terms of color, they will fade if displayed for a long time. That said, you could frame them in such a way that you could change out the cards. To begin with, any matting and mounting materials should be acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered. Use any good quality museum rag mat board. The cards can be mounted using polyester photo corners which will make it easy in the future to change out the cards for a rotating display. The cards should then have a window mat cut for them so that they don't come into direct contact with the glazing. It would be best to use UV blocking glass or Plexiglas for the glazing to add another layer of protection. Once framed, do not hang in direct sunlight and try to avoid hanging on exterior walls where condensation may occur, leading to mold.
Thanks for sharing this new aspect of your collection!